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Why and how to choose wireless microphone systems?
Wireless microphone systems which are affordable, reliable and versatile, are developed to challenge wired ones that are inconvenient and impractical in some situations. If you are new to this category of microphone, it may seem difficult to use such mics. Once you are informed of the basics, you will find they’re really quite easy to understand and use. Let’s have a look at it.
What are the benefits of using wireless mic systems?
The microphones wireless have a heap of benefits over traditional cabled ones.
They are wireless! This means that the user can move unimpeded when performing. For example, a public speaker using such a device will be allowed to walk freely around the performing area, including going into the audience with no degradation of sound quality. Moreover, the user can do so without a fear of being tripped - the possibility of this is significantly reduced when there are no wires.
They are long-distance. It is the distance between the wireless microphone receiver and its transmitter which is always large. The coming SYNCO G1 is a good example. Its line-of-sight distance is 70m (1-trigger-1 G1(A1)) and 50m (1-trigger-2 G1(A2)), separately. This offers greater space and ease of movement.
They are discreet. Whether the performance is in front of a camera or before hundreds of people in an auditorium, the less cables that are visible to the audience, the better the experience for them it will be. This is because in such a clean environment, the audience will not be disturbed by the presence of wires when watching your visual recording or presentation.
They are durable. Cables are always easy to wear out, radio waves won’t! Cabled microphones that are used frequently can very often suffer from frayed wires, especially if they are cheaply made. Therefore, the cord will need to be replaced or repaired time and again as it gets damaged for fear that it would become hazardous.
They can be hands-free. Wireless microphone systems are intended to free not only your hands but also your mind. Whether you are a singer or a presenter, a hands-free performance of great mobility can be expected.
Four things to consider when buying wireless microphones
Commonly speaking, there are mainly three types of frequencies.
UHF (400 MHz and above) has been the standard for many years and has typically given the strongest and best performance. In recent years, restrictions have been levied on the frequencies of operation for this type of mics. That is why the newer wireless microphones at 2.4 GHz are designed.
Such microphones operate in the 2.4GHz band. Keep in mind that the 2.4GHz frequency band, similar to your WiFi, has already been crowded with a large quantity of unlicensed consumer products such as smartphones, computers, and personal media players. That is to say, it is potentially subject to interference from the said devices and “dropout” may be the result. Their operating range is also much shorter. Use 2.4 GHz wireless mic systems only in smaller rooms with no obstructions between the transmitter and receiver antennas.
Another frequency band that professional wireless microphone systems always use is 902-928MHz. It is a widely recognized frequency range substitute for people who replace old and out-of-date 600-700MHz cordless mics. Some manufacturers are also offering VHF between 169 and 216MHz range. With new digital technology, this may be another feasible choice.
Different systems have different transmission ranges, from short distances to hundreds of feet. A practical way of choosing a suitable product is to think about how far you will always stay away from your talent and then double it to be safe.
Additionally, it is a common idea that short-range wireless microphone systems cannot achieve excellent transmission through slight barriers such as desks, doors and sound booths. This is something to consider when you are looking at 2.4 GHz and VHF systems as they will not typically have the range a UHF system will have.
Digital wireless microphones and analog wireless systems are always pitted against each other. It seems that there are many reasons to look at the former over the latter, such as battery life (the figure is about 40% longer) and spectral efficiency (more kits can be used into a given frequency range). In particular, the biggest improvement is sound quality.
Analog systems need to squeeze the audio signals that is the entire dynamic range of a voice or instrument, into the narrow frequency allocation before producing their output, while digital models can simply do this without companding, which results in a more natural sound.
Digital wireless microphone systems, which have seen price falls, are more affordable for almost everyone. Modern analog systems, however, have improved their companding efficiency, trying to close the gap between audio quality.
Latency is defined as the amount of time it takes for a signal to come out as an audible sound. It has great impact on performers. Sometimes musicians may complain that it is hard for them to stay in tune and in tempo on stage. This is because the sound they hear on stage is smeared.
In fact, latency is another key factor in the dispute between analog and digital wireless mic systems. The analog systems show almost zero latency since they do with signals running at highly fast rates straightly. By contrast, digital modules need to alter analog signals to digital ones before the signals are processed by microcontrollers. Advanced engineering, growing with innovations made in companding that have greatly improved the sound quality, has provided below 5ms latency for high-quality digital wireless microphone systems.
Generally speaking, it is enough to use wireless microphone systems with latencies of up to 15ms for conferences and seminars where small delays are allowed. If you are producing in a more artistic way (e.g. a stage performance in a theater), you are expected to invest in high-quality wireless microphones with latency rates as low as possible.